Thursday, June 14, 2018

All This Time by Melissa Tagg

All this Time by Melissa Tagg

My rating: 4.5, leaning toward 5 of 5 stars

Amazing summertime read! Warning: may induce deep seeded need to hunt fireflies or break into abandoned buildings.

Five years of friendship and a secret crush make it really hard to get over a man. Even when he's thousands of miles away. Reagan Walker can't seem to get past her feelings for Bear McKinley, or another dark problem that she's been combating since before her world turned upside down.

Bear McKinley could have sworn he got it right this time, but nothing's turned out like he'd planned. When his life gets completely upended yet again, and he finds himself back in Maple Valley with the care of his niece and nephew entrusted to him, or rather thrust upon him, he's positive about only one thing: he's not sure of anything anymore.

As Reagan tries to overcome her challenges, and bear tries to figure out where he's supposed to go from here, a summer together has them realizing that they can't keep ignoring the forces driving them together.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Keep Holding On by Melissa Tagg

Keep Holding On by Melissa Tagg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Keep Holding On is a perfect Autumn read, best accompanied by some apple pie or a warm mug of cider.

Beckett Walker has always followed his impulses, and they had served him well thus far - from running away six years ago to this trip back to Maple Valley - but he may have been wrong this time.

Kit Danby never quite got over losing her best friend, but seeing him in the flesh after all this time was vastly more jarring than she had anticipated. Can she risk spending her days with him to save the only home she's ever known?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amelia Bentley lost everything once. So now she's safely tucked herself away in a perfect little home community and is only revealed enough of herself in order to be embraced in this new life. But she still has a deep yearning to be a part of a family, especially one like the Walkers have. Unfortunately she seems to lack the courage to let down enough walls to really connect with someone.

Logan Walker desperately needs a break. Trying to care for his three-year-old daughter all by himself is not working out like he planned with a blossoming career as a political speech writer. When an amazing opportunity or what may be a big problem lands in his lap, he's forced to go back home to Maple Valley and reevaluate what he wants in life.

When Amelia and Logan end up locked in a battle-royale over the local newspaper, hilarity and sparks ensue, making both wonder what they're really after.

Excellent spring or early summer read. Preferably on a porch swing lots of comfy cushions, overcast skies that may give a little rain, and a bed of flowers nearby.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

From the Start by Melissa Tagg

From the Start by Melissa Tagg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 Kate Walker is a specialist in love, writing acclaimed romantic scripts for TV movies, but is perfectly content with love staying safely trapped on the pages and in the screen.

Colton Greene has no idea what he wants to do with his life. Now permanently sidelyined by an injury, his career as an NFL quarterback is over and he's laying low in small town Iowa trying to figure out his comeback.

That town, devastated by a natural disaster brings both Kate and Colton into the Walker home and opens some doors that neither of them thought possible.

Good Autumn read or anytime during football season!


I'm predisposed to dislike writer characters in books simply because I feel like the authors tend to glorify the profession. Fortunately, this isn't the case in this story. Kate is a great flawed character who is really struggling to find her purpose. Returning to Maple Valley seems to help her grow in just about every aspect of her life. Colton is a wonderfully complex character who is working through, or rather trying to avoid working through, extreme childhood trauma. Although he starts out as a self-centered individual, his transformation throughout the story makes him into a very lovable character.

My Character Inspiration

Scott Eastwood as Colton Greene
Jennifer Love Hewitt as Kate "Rosie" Walker


The overall plot really seems to focus around Colton's discovery of his past. There are smaller story arcs throughout that maintain a good pace and keep your interest as well. This is my second time reading this book, so while I wasn't surprised by any of the plot twists, I remember them being really great the first time around. This book has the potential to make you laugh, cry, and dream about small town American life.


Maple Valley, Iowa is the perfect picturesque small town. While most of the story occurs in modern day Maple Valley, there are parts that take place in Chicago and LA.


You can definitely pick up on how wonderfully quirky Melissa Tagg is by reading these books. The quick wit and banter between characters is always amusing. There are the token classic movie references, along with a nod to the author's favorite band NEEDTOBREATHE.


The two major themes throughout this book are ones that each character struggles with. Kate gives us a great example of being afraid of going after what you really want when there's a fear of it either slipping through your fingers or leaving you hurt in the end. Colton's challenge is finding the blessings that God has for you when things don't necessarily go the way that you originally planned.


"And he was just standing there now, a thesaurus full of synonyms that added up to ridiculous amounts of handsome."

"'Maybe I did, but look where it got me.'
He grinned and stood, his shadow swallowing hers. 'It got you right here. Softened. Flexible. Willing to consider maybe God knows better than you what your life should looks like. And like this little bridge that weathered a slew of storms, ready to be used.'

My Thoughts

No lie, y'all. I'm in super stressed mode. I was slacking with getting this review written and now I have to double check my 8-year-old's packing job, pack for myself, and get some sleep before heading to the airport EARLY tomorrow for my sister's wedding in Oregon. I am so stinking excited about getting to be there for the wedding, but a little nutty from trying to get everything ready for the trip.

ANYWAY, thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week! I'll be back here Monday with the next book in the series. 


Monday, May 28, 2018

Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg

Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy cuteness, Batman! I got this book for free on Amazon, and it just sat on my Kindle for almost a year! I read the Where Love Begins series, and already read the first two books in the Walker Family series before remembering I had this. I don't know how, but I missed that the Ava in the Walker Family books is THAT Ava. *facepalm*. back to this book, though. Seth and Ava's is the best story I've read in months! I felt an instant kinship with Ava, being a bit of a football-loving tomboy myself, and I loved the e-mail relationship of sassy arguments between her and Seth. I admired Seth's loyalty and commitment, even if he almost took it too far. Great read that I'm sure to pick up again one of these days!

This is a perfect quick read, but you may want to read the preceding Whisper Shore novels first. It'll make this book richer and avoid spoilers for the previous story lines.

*Free book, but only available in digital format*

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Storm Front by Susan May Warren

Storm Front by Susan May Warren

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a total of 48 hours, Brette Arnold had fallen so hard for Ty Remington that she knew there was no way she could drag him through this with her, so she knew her only option was to run, but when a tornado decimates a small town, she's suddenly thrown back into a world that includes the gallant hero that can't seem to stop trying to save her.

Eighteen months and Ty still can't get Brette off his mind. It was painfully obvious that she must not have the same problem since she hightailed it away from him as fast as her feet could carry her. When his mentor and boss at PEAK rescue goes missing, he finds himself face to face with the woman he can't get over wondering what on earth happened to the beautiful optimist that won his heart.

If you're looking for a heart-pounding adventure, get your hands on this book. It's an exhilarating story of hope in the bleakest moments.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Shadowed by Dani Pettrey

Shadowed by Dani Pettrey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What starts as a relaxing break from the riggors if her profession quickly turns into a whirlwind and potentially life-threatening adventure for Libby Jennings when she and her tour guide discover a murder victim in the open ocean.

Ben McKenna loves the thrill of the outdoors, but almost from the instant Libby steps onto his boat and into his life, his adventures turn into something dangerous that he can't escape. Walking away would guarantee he'd lose the girl who made him realize he hadn't been living until she showed up.

Great vacation read or even a weekend read because of the length of the novella. Warning, you may get pulled in and have to read the entire series.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kirra Jacobs has known Reef McKenna practically her whole life, so you can imagine her surprise when the carefree, no-commitment, flighty boy from her childhood volunteers to help her track down her missing uncle and sticks by her side as the mystery involving his disappearance takes a turn for the worst. Could she really be that wrong about the boy who she swore would never grow up?

Kirra had always had the power to get under Reef's skin. Ever since she ratted him out for bad behavior for the first time in Kindergarten, she'd retained her top-billing as his primary nemesis. When he tries to step up and do the right thing for the girl who drives him absolutely crazy, he get's pulled into a disaster he'd never imagined, falling for the girl he'd thought had it all together.

Good vacation read, also would be great in early March during the Iditarod race in Alaska.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Silenced by Dani Pettrey

Silenced by Dani Pettrey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Strong and independent, Kayden McKenna has everything under control. Dedicated to staying strong, healthy, and beholden only to herself, she's effectively created an indestructible shell of protection. That's exactly why she's so scared of Jake. He has a crazy way of sneaking past that barrier and seeing what's really going on with her. Things only get more complicated when she's forced to accompany him on an investigation into a murder she stumbled upon.

Jake Cavanagh never thought he'd recover from the loss of his wife and child, but somehow Kayden has brought him back to life. When the case they're working on leads to threats on her life, he will do anything to keep the woman he loves safe from harm.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Stranded by Dani Pettrey

Stranded by Dani Pettrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Investigative reporting is in her past and good riddance, but when Darcy St. James's former partner asks for her help and then mysteriously disappears, she has to use those skills to find her friend and uncover a scheme that has ruined and ended lives.

Gage McKenna is over her. There's no way he's letting Darcy sneak into his heart. It's too fractured to handle one more heartbreak. But when she sails back into his life, he discovers that choice may already be out of his hands. Will she be his undoing or the key to healing?

Great spring or vacation read.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When her brother is placed on trial for murder, Piper McKenna won't stop until she's proved his innocence. Deputy Landon Grainger would do anything for the family that took him in as one of their own, but how can he prove the innocence of a man who appears to be guilty? When the woman he's come to love begins interfering in his investigation, he may have to go to extraordinary lengths to keep her safe, and hopefully help save her brother too.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Submerged by Dani Pettrey

Submerged by Dani Pettrey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bailey Craig has been running from her past for years when it finally catches up to her. Forced to return home due to the sudden death of her closest relative, she must face her sordid history along with her first and only love.

Cole McKenna has experienced his fair share of loss, but none that impacted him like losing Bailey. When she returns to town, he finds himself torn. Should he protect himself from the one woman with the power to wreck his life again or hold on tight to a friend that's hurting? When mysterious killings rock the small town, they are forced to put all else aside to bring the killer to justice.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason

Chasing Secrets (Elite Guardians, #4)

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Suddenly confronted with a past she can hardly remember, Haley Callaghan must fight for her life as an unknown killer (or possibly killers) take aim. Detective Steven Rothwell can't believe the beauty and spirit of this woman he's just met, and gets taken on the ride of his life as he tries to keep her safe.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Moving Target by Lynette Eason

Moving Target (Elite Guardians #3)

Moving Target by Lynette Eason

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quinn and Maddy are teetering on the edge of a relationship, but will it fall in to something meaningful after all they've been through together or fall apart when they face their next challenge? When they find themselves in the sights of a serial killer, the relationship status comes secondary to their main focus. Survival.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Without Warning by Lynette Eason

Without Warning (Elite Guardians #2)

Without Warning by Lynette Eason

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Still reeling from the death if his brother, Daniel's life once again spirals into chaos when a series of violent crimes strikes his restaurant chain. His niece, worried that she'll lose him too, convinces him to hire the Elite Guardians for protection. Katie is fighting her demons the best way she knows how - avoidance - when she takes on the case for a man who might just change everything and make her face her fears.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

What impact do you have on those around you?

I find that a lot of the time, I forget that my life - how I act, what I do, and what I don't do - affects other people. I get into my routine: church, family time, dinner, bed, physical/occupational/speech therapy appointments, school, homework, cleaning, bed. Rinse. Repeat. What I never think of is how my going into my reading bubble while Addie's in therapy or how I drive my car can actually interfere with being a messenger of the gospel.

Not only am I distracted by my to-do list, but the way that I go about that to-do list can be an example of how Christ is working in my life - or exactly the opposite. I am outspoken about my faith, but am I out-acting that faith? The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22) and those attributes should be obvious in my life if I am submitting to God and living as he would have me. It's been my experience that most people are turned off from Christianity not because the concepts are inconceivable, but because they had a bad experience with someone who called themselves a Christian and didn't get it right.

None of us are perfect - we wouldn't need a savior if we were - but we are called to be examples of Christ. He was never outraged over a personal offense. As a matter of fact, he died for the people who were criticizing, cursing, and beat him. He never backed down from what he taught to make people more comfortable, but he invested time and energy in getting to know them and loving them, changing hearts through relationship.

So, give up those Facebook tirades and Twitter attacks on those who disagree with you and take the time to make sure you're having a positive impact on your true sphere of influence - family, friends, coworkers, and others you see on a daily basis. Show people through the way you live what Christ is capable when he gets a hold of a willing heart.

The most obvious sign of another believer to me, especially nowadays when anger, malice, and sadness seem to rule, is usually the joy that we have through the hope of Jesus Christ.
You will show me the way of life, 
granting me the joy of your presence 
and the pleasures of living with you forever. 
Psalm 16:11
Praying that you get to experience this amazing joy and that it has a radical effect on those you encounter.


Her One and Only (Porter Family, #4)Her One and Only by Becky Wade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when a super manly sports star's life is in jeopardy? Naturally you hire a slender, model-looking female security agent to guard him. The premise for this book is outlandish and laughable, but if you can get around that (which, let's face it, as romantic fiction readers we are probably accustomed to doing so) you will get so much enjoyment out of this story.

I love the battle of the wills between Dru and Gray. I'm pretty sure that Dru is my spirit animal, starting with her superhuman stubbor--ahem determination, right down to the affinity for Cool Ranch Doritos, Coke, and bad-for-you breakfast foods. Gray can definitely hold his own, and I love that he is very kind and caring in his own way, while still being able to stand toe to toe with the Revengeress -- btw the best nickname ever.

Dru's inner monologues are some of THE most hilarious sentiments I've ever read. "Some people received actual, useful benefits at their jobs - like dental coverage. She'd have preferred dental coverage." LOL and the chemistry on that first kiss... Whew.

On a spiritual level, I LOVE Love love Dru's testimony and that she still faces the reality of temptation, while still calling Gray on his lifestyle and that he actually has the conviction to let God work on the way he's living his life.

Finally, I loved that we got to see Meg and Bo and what they have been through over the last ten years. Wow. Just wow. The reality and transparency in their struggle with infertility and trusting God through it was very impacting.

Oh wow... All the feels. The last Porter family book most certainly is the end of an era and I'm not ashamed to say I am teary-eyed at the thought of it's closing, but what a great adventure it's been.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Proposal by Becky Wade


It's an easy go to for a lot of us, whether it's self-condemnation over mistakes we've made in the past or condemning others because of their actions and it really can be a useful tool that brings us into an understanding of why Christ died for us.

The problem with condemnation is that it quickly becomes a way for the devil to wreak havoc because we can't accept forgiveness or give forgiveness to others. There is one pivotal moment in our lives when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior and confess our sins that turns the tables so that we are free from guild and shame that we have to accept as truth. Sometimes we may not "feel" forgiven, but that's when we have to remind ourselves of that truth. When we really own the gospel, it frees us to forgive ourselves and others and allows us to live like no one else.

I hope you have experienced this forgiveness and freedom, and that it has opened your eyes to the amazing blessings that God pours out on his children.

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" Romans 8:1


Amber is a great example of forgiveness and redemption. Check out her story in this VERY short Christmas story, and companion to the Porter family series, The Proposal.

The Proposal (Porter Family #3.5)The Proposal by Becky Wade
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very cute. Felt a little rushed, but it was a great quirky little snippet. It's so nice to see Amber finally get the good guy.

This is definitely not something you could just pick up and read by itself, but a great add-on to the Porter Family books. I really like Will, and I think he and Amber could have easily kept my attention for a full-sized novel.

The great part about this only being a short, however, is that it's less than $1 on Amazon or free for the Kindle Unlimited subscribers, so there's no excuse to miss out on Amber's happily ever after.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

The term "bleeding heart". It's a phrase I feel gets a bad rep because our society has become so focused on taking care of yourself. They say a bleeding heart does nothing but get everyone messy and leave you lifeless, but I think that is such a sad view to have. I am an emotional person, as you may have guessed by now, but I'd probably go as far as defining myself as hyper-sympathetic. It's not only my own victories and trials that I feel, but those of people around me. I like to think that I was made that way for a purpose.

The "bleeding hearts" of society tend to be the people that will bring light to issues that others didn't even recognize as a problem and take action to make a change. They see how their neighbor, city, state, nation, or world hurts and feel that pain as keenly as if it were their own. As you can imagine, with so much pain and suffering in the world, it can be draining to take on the problems of other people when it all feels so insurmountable. A bleeding heart will exhaust itself and become completely impotent if it is not transfused with an additional supply. That's where I recognize that impact is impossible without a supply source.

As Christians, we have the secret to that source. We can hurt and care and love outrageously because we have a Creator who can fill us back up. Not only can we do this, but our very purpose is to be this example to people. We don't have to try to convince them that our beliefs are "right" or that they are heathen sinners in need of redemption. We have a stronger weapon - the love of Christ. And that love has the power to change (and not just others, mind you, but ourselves as well). I encourage all one or two of you reading this to love extravagantly and let God fill you up when you're depleted. It's a challenge that I'm working on in my own life too, so don't feel like you're in it alone.

Praying for you today.


P.S. See what healing love can bring in Lindie and Jake's story, the third in the Porter family series and today's book.

A Love Like Ours (Porter Family, #3)A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lindie James, born free-spirited with a heart made to nurture, lost the best friend she ever had when her family moved away from Holley, TX before her high school graduation and now that they're finally back, nothing is the same. Especially the friendship she had with Jake Porter.

Jake has seen the worst of the worst, somehow surviving when no one else did. Now his only peace can be found in training Thoroughbred Race Horses. That, and maybe an occasional flashback to his childhood, but his whole world is turned upside down when Lindie steps back into his life and into his worse fears.

If you've read any of the previous books in the series, you probably have a special place in your heart for Jake - Mr. Tall, Dark, and Brooding. My heart continued to ache for him as you see his story unfold throughout this book. I'm a sucker for childhood friendships that eventually evolve, and this on hit me right in the feels. Lindie is a beautiful character with a strong current of compassion that runs soul-deep, and the perfect match for Jake's, well, broken persona.

The writing is perfect - well paced, and keeps you locked in to the story. The believable characters play wonderfully off of one another, and show development from beginning to end. Jake, especially. He truly felt like a man suffering with PTSD and his reactions to situations were plausible and realistic. Another job well done by Becky Wade.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade

Sometimes, things don't go the way we plan. I know this is a shocking revelation for a lot of you, but hold on here with me. My biggest life-changing moment happened when I was 19 years old. No, it wasn't when I started college, or moved out of my parent's house. It was when I found out I was pregnant with a guy I'd only been dating for two months.

I grew up in a Christian home and truly gave my life to Christ when I was only four, but after graduating high school and moving out of my house, I took my life back into my own hands. I knew that the way I was living was wrong - I felt dirty and worthless - which lead deeper into promiscuity as I searched for my value. When I found out I was pregnant, it was a huge slap in the face. It honestly felt as close to being jolted by a defibrillator as I can imagine, and had about the same effect. I got a second chance to live life right. Really, it was a choice I had all along - a simple step back under the care of an Abba Father who loves me more than any earthly father ever could. I got to run back to a father whose love is perfectly unconditional.

The best thing about a God who loves us like this is that when we submit our lives to him, he will take our mistakes and turn them in to something beautiful. A year after my Zoe Elizabeth (meaning "life consecrated to God") was welcomed into this world, her dad and I got married. When she was three, she helped us welcome her little sister into the family. Now, our little family of four is doing our utmost to glorify God in all we do and tell others about his amazing, wonderful, unending, redeeming love.

Speaking of redemption stories, check out today's book: number two in the Porter Family series by Becky Wade (one of my very favorite authors)

Be encouraged and know you're loved :)


Romans 5:8

Meant to be Mine (Porter Family, #2)Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that started out with a bang.

What a perfect book to draw you in to a story that will have you obsessing over a former romance and wishing that characters could get past circumstances and just see that they are obviously perfect for each other. Ty is the boy-man you hate to love, but you simply can't help yourself when confronted with his fantastic cowboy charm and killer smile, not to mention his well-concealed noble and tender heart. Normally sane and grounded Celia has always had a weekness for the handsome troublemaker, making her horribly vulnerable to his crazy whims. The combination makes for a starting intro and a wonderfully complex plot.

I love that even though Ty is a complete rapscallion, he always takes responsibility for his actions. He has a truly generous heart, always doting on his loved ones. Celia lives sacrifice, but I like that she has to grow as a character and understand that her sacrifices have to do more with her stubborn self-reliance than a humble submission.

Their fantastic, steamy, rocky relationship will have you reaching for some ice water more than once, and the last chapter plays out like a movie scene I would watch over and over and over again.

Meant to be Mine is the perfect combination of hard reality, sensational romance, and the truth of God's grace in the midst of our failures. You'll definitely want to have your own copy on the shelf to read again and again.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade

Ever feel emotionally overwhelmed? Yeah, me too. It's funny how when I'm going through it, I often feel alone in my depression and suffering, but almost as soon as I'm out the other side, I remember that pretty much every woman ever has experienced an emotional overload. My favorite example is from the movie Mom's Night Out where the main character is "stress paralyzed", but I even found a kindred spirit in the main character of today's review.

In my case, when I get knocked down emotionally or psychologically, I tend to drop everything good and productive that I'm doing because I seem to think these activities are responsible for the drain, which in turn leaves me feeling unproductive (who woulda thunk?) and completely depletes my self-worth - and explains my month-long absence from the blog world. My "triggers" for this awesome behavior range wide and vary greatly, but most recently the straw that broke the camels proverbial back was a disappointing read that had me swearing off fiction for good (thank goodness that didn't take).

The problem with all of that nonsense is that whenever I get that emotionally attached to a book (or person, idea, feeling, etc.) is that I forget where my value and satisfaction is really found. I'm still trying to recover from my most recent descent into the dark side, but I'm making myself start my day with a small quiet time, work on scripture memorization, and am limiting my audio input to worship-only music. Since I already struggle with self-discipline, you can just imagine how great I'm doing at all of this, but even when I fail, I'm working on recovering my focus as quickly as possible.

I hope you'll be encouraged today to keep your chin up and remember where your worth and fulfillment come from.

All my love.


Undeniably Yours (Porter Family, #1)Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The thing I hate about authors who are fairly new to the scene? I scarf down all their material entirely too fast. The good news is that I love reading their wonderful stories just as much the second and third times as I do the first. Becky Wade has created a masterpiece with the Porter family that I can't help coming back to. She does a great job of really drawing you into the story, even giving you a soundtrack to the characters' thoughts and feelings.

Meg, an heiress feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of what she's facing in the wake of her father's death, is forced to make some hard decisions on how to run his empire. Unfortunately, that puts the delectably endearing Bo Porter in her cross-hairs. The result is magical.

I love Meg! She's so fragile and spunky at the same time. Her thought processes will have you control-breathing through her anxiety and laughing out loud at her sublime quirkiness, especially when she translates her unspoken conversations with Bo and Silver Leaf.

Bo is honorable and respectful, but also determined. I love the masculinity if his character and his need to be the protector, making him tender toward Meg, rather than just being a hyper sensitive male.

Even the supporting characters are incredibly well done, giving a well-rounded cast that you want to get to know better. Amber is a perfect compliment to Meg, and their relationship brings added depth to both, uncovering strengths and struggle that make them more dynamic. I adore Brimm in all of his quirky un-Texan-ness. He's a character I'd love to read more about.

Finally, I'm predisposed to dislike any book where a divorce plays into the plot in a positive it supportive manor (hence the loss of a star) but Becky handles the situation well, making it something that the character had virtually no say in, and is ultimately used for a great story of redemption.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Life After by Katie Ganshert

How do you bounce back from difficult experiences? I've had one or two over the years, and have somehow survived the curve-balls life has thrown my way, but I often wonder if I ever fully recover from those experiences and how much they color my day-to-day life from that point forward. I think the hardest part of going through these events is not living in fear or dreaded anticipation of it happening again.

If you've been hanging with me on the blog for pretty much any amount of time, you'll know that I have a really hard time with a lack of control. It seems that people tend to react one of two ways to occurrences outside of our control. A) We latch on as hard as we can to make sure that we orchestrate everything to guarantee that we never have to have a similar experience again, or 2) We recognize our ineptitude and turn somewhere else for answers. I think eventually - yes, I do realize my wonderful number/lettering system is unconventional - we all come to see that control is not our own.

So how do you deal with it day in and day out? I've found that I often have to remind myself of who is in control, but even more so, I have to rediscover His character. If you struggle with the same thing, let me just pass on a couple neat facts:

He is faithful. "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one." 2 Thessalonians 3:3

He is mighty. "At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.'" Hebrews 12:26

He is just. "Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son." Hebrews 12:6 "I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice." Ezekiel 34:16

He is the rescuer. "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." 2 Timothy 4:18

He is powerful. "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him." Daniel 2:20-22 "And in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over ever power and authority." Colossians 2:10

He is perfect. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin." Hebrews 4:15

He is here. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

Life AfterLife After by Katie Ganshert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You will not want to put it down!!!!

Katie has a specific, darker mood to her books that is gritty and real. The characters are so well written they become a living, breathing part of you. Your pulse quickens as your take on Autumn's anxiety and you feel the depths of Paul's frustrations as if they were your very own.

If I highlighted every perfect scene description, I'd end up quoting just about the entire book, but Katie does not only creates a vivid world for her characters. She gives even inanimate injects a life of their own such as the black fence and mailbox standing sentry around Paul's house. The symbolism in the objects and colors adds a whole new dimension to the story giving it a prominent place on my re-read shelf.

Finally, I love the flow of conversation and relationships that Katie creates. My favorite dynamic is probably that of Autumn and Maud - by far some of the best conversations in the book. The basketball scene was too wonderful for words.

Life after is an experience you do not want to miss out on.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Told You Twice by Kristen Heitzmann

Be. Still. Who has time for that?

I've been super overwhelmed lately with all of the distractions life has thrown at me - cleaning the house for company, trying to slog through insurance madness to get care for my daughter, chauffeuring, cooking, and all the other daily craziness we encounter - and have lost sight of "Be Still". It's fascinating to me how many times I have to get smacked upside the head with this concept before I will actually take a minute to refocus my life on what's really important.

It's not about getting my house ready for company; it's about welcoming someone who needs a place to stay and serving them with that which God has given us. It's not about getting things cleared with insurance; it's about taking the time to connect with my daughter and let her know that God loves her and has created her exactly how he wanted her to be - equipped for the exact ministry he has planned for her. It's about trusting that He has this.

Blogging is my time to be still and use writing to process what God is working and teaching me in my life. I have to keep that in focus so I don't get overwhelmed with what I feel like I should be doing, or pushing myself to get more followers. This is my outlet. My time to connect with other people going through life, hopefully give a little encouragement, and some inspiring and uplifting reading suggestions. I love that you're in this with me. You've got my prayers and constant thanks. xo

Told You Twice (Told You, #2)Told You Twice by Kristen Heitzmann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You're sure to love this story that will keep you on your toes and your heart in your throat.

Bo Corrigan is an incorrigible rapscallion whom you can't help but love from the moment Grace meets him in Told You So. Alexis is a charming whirlwind of fragile innocence and excitement to whom you can't help but be drawn. The two together have a magic dynamic. Her tenderness is the perfect compliment to Bo's over-the-top theatrics. I love love love the intertwining of pieces of literature and plays in his basic thought processes, and the wonderful author's (as always) lofty linguistic skills that somehow make it mesh perfectly into his character and the story.

I feel as if I found a kindred spirit in Exi, her character's history, struggles, and strengths bearing some similarities to my own, but I think that may be the case for a lot of people. I knew Kristen Heitzmann had a supernatural ability to weave a beautiful, dark, and thrilling suspense, but am happy to report that capacity carries over to her experiments in ChickLit/Romance.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Told You So by Kristen Heitzmann

Today's post is hard-fought, y'all.

The book was a great read and so easy to write a raving review for, but my own words were hard to come by. Lately I've been struggling hardcore with depression, something that comes and goes in my life, but the last few days, it's been intense. All of this was then amplified by feeling super inadequate as an emerging book blogger after stumbling upon a SUPERB blog with a similar focus. (Check out Carrie Schmidt's fantastic blog HERE).

Funny thing about depression? The more you think about your circumstances, the more entrenched in it you become. What I've been reminded of recently (and this book is a great example) is that God has called us all to use our unique gifts for His glory, and that is what we are to focus on. There will always be someone better than I at any given thing that I put my mind to, so I have to let go of my competitive, perfectionist streak and simply do what I feel He wants me to.

God is faithful. He is good. He will use us if we are simply willing to step out in faith. That doesn't make it easy, or mean that we won't sometimes fail, but He can work even our mistakes out for His great purposes. Whatever it is that God has called you to do, I encourage you to take that next step, and watch him work. Remember to rejoice in everything, knowing that we are already victors through our wonderful Savior.

Told You So (Told You, #1)Told You So by Kristen Heitzmann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It has been a long time since I've read a romance novel that has challenged me intellectually, so I was thrilled to find Told You So. The thing I love most about Kristen's books is that they are written above a 5th grade reading level. The vocabulary had me reaching for a dictionary a time or two, and the construction of sentences and plot were masterful.

Told you so is fast paced and witty, the beautiful antagonism between the characters keeping you on your toes at all times. I loved their clever banter and sophisticated insults. Devin is oddly likable - he's got that tortured artist thing going for sure, and Grace is a force to be reckoned with. Their dialogue is perfection and their creative force "the zone" will definitely have your pulse spiking.

I love that Kristen's characters don't live in a Christian bubble. They are Christians in the world. As strange as it may sound, I love the theme of uncompromising failure in this book. When character's fall (as all must at one point or another), it is heartbreaking, but they stay true to their essence.

Definitely one of the best books I've read in the genre, I can hardly wait to get this review written before jumping into the next book in the series Told You Twice.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh

My heart seems to break over and over again nowadays. I think a lot of it has to do with seeing divorce permeate the relationships of my close friends and family members - maybe I would feel less passionate about it if I hadn't seen the effects it has on those I love. But I have. We're told by society that we should be happy. Happiness is a good thing, right? Sure, but God doesn't promise us happiness. He promises us persecution. Victory. Rest. Joy.

Happiness is fleeting. Joy is found in knowing our creator. Especially in marriage, we are called to sacrificial love. That doesn't sound very happy to me like 99% of the time. To be honest, I'm really selfish. I like my time to be mine. My husband occasionally does things that bug me. There are times when I think we should do one thing and my husband disagrees. I'm the first to say that I am not good at laying down my thoughts, desires, and even needs in submission to my husband (and probably even worse at submitting to God), but marriage is a process that changes you - refines you - and I'm still in process.

Okay, so we have to get through the times when it's not all peachy, but what marriage can withstand adultery? We like to write that off as the unforgivable sin because God made an allowance in the bible for those who had hardened their hearts, but isn't God in the business of changing hearts? Separation I understand. It's not healthy to be in a manipulative or abusive relationship, but what if we took the time apart to focus on having God as our #1 and praying that he will work a miracle in our spouse's heart? I see divorce as different than legal separation because while one gives you distance with an intention to work through the situation, the only additional "benefit" to divorce is the option to remarry. That's the point when you stop believing that God can overcome.

I know this is a touchy subject. I'm not saying this in judgment. I'm not condemning anyone here. I honestly mean this as encouragement to those going through a hard time in your marriage. God is bigger. He can change hearts, even the hardest ones. Can you find fulfillment in your relationship with God alone and be an intercessor for your spouse? I'm not saying that it's supposed to be easy, but I have seen marriages that survive and even thrive after unfaithfulness.

God seems to give us an "out" where divorce is concerned in the event of adultery in a couple places in the Bible. The problem with using that out is that the minute we start rationalizing our "right" to do something is the minute that we take God out of the equation. We are to stand up for truth, not for ourselves. On the contrary, we are supposed to be willing to lay down our lives for those who use and persecute us. (Check out Matthew 5 & Luke 6) Yes, it says to love those who persecute you, but what is love? "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." And maybe those we're called to love would qualify as friends.

I hope this Valentine's day, no matter what your relationship status, you know that God so loves you. He has wonderful plans for you. He can give you joy even in unhappy circumstances. When we keep our eyes on Him first and foremost, everything in the background gets a little easier.

Change of Heart (Paper Hearts #2)Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Man, this one was almost physically painful for me to get through. Don't get me wrong, the writing style was magnificent and Courtney certainly has a talent for story telling, but I never want to read a Christian novel - however well written - which has me pulled toward rooting for a divorce. It's an absolutely detestable feeling.

Yes, this happens in real life. Christians get divorced. I've had a front row seat to too many of my friends and my family going through something like that. Truth be told I have radical views (even compared to most other Christians) on marriage and divorce, so that definitely elevated my dislike of this story.

I love the message that Courtney was trying to get across. Submit to God's will. I just think the execution was pretty much non-existent. Evelyn's character ends up happy. Yay. The problem is, can you find one single part of the story where she is actually submitting to God's will, or does she finally find her own happiness? Trevor pines after a married woman... for 10 years! He keeps saying he's submitting it to God's will, but his actions clearly speak otherwise.

Honestly, I wanted to give up on this book about a quarter of the way through, but I felt like in order to give it an honest review, I had to see it through to the end. The technical writing was great, conversation fluid, and characters were well developed, but sadly static and on the wrong side of a very precarious line of Christian morality.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh

I love Valentine's Day. I always have.

I think my favorite part of the holiday nowadays is that I finally have some traditions. I didn't grow up in a family with a lot of traditions, which made holidays and the like fun and spontaneous, but there is something to be said for those rites that help to get us in the spirit of the season. I've recently discovered that I have an overwhelming desire to start some traditions with my own family, and I think Valentine's Day is special because the tradition wasn't forced or contrived, it just kind of happened. It started when I was pregnant with my now-8-year-old and Mike (now husband, then boyfriend) and I were trying to figure out our next step. I was only 19 at the time, and after we found out I was pregnant, I moved in with my Mom after a wonderful streak of independence that led to some really bad choices.

So Valentine's Day rolls around. Mike is scheduled to work at PF Chang's that night, and I'm half way through my pregnancy with a nasty cold trying to catch up on housework. The doorbell rings and on my doorstep stands my sweet boyfriend with a heart-shaped pizza and a DVD of You've Got Mail. It's super corny, but I absolutely love it. Every year, no matter how poor, stressed, or tired we are, we get a heart-shaped pepperoni pizza from Papa Murphy's and eat while watching You've Got Mail. It will never get old.

Traditions - for the most part, I think - allow us to forget schedules and chaos and settle into a known event, allowing us to focus on the reason why we're doing rather than what we're doing. I love the idea of  Paper Hearts in this book. I'd love to hear about your holiday or birthday traditions, so feel free to comment or message me!

Paper HeartsPaper Hearts by Courtney Walsh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What starts out as a light and fun read beautifully transforms into a story with a true beating, broken heart. Living in a kitschy, love obsessed town, Abigail Pressman has a perfect plan for fulfilling all of her dreams - none of which include any silly romantic sensibilities.

After all, "Who needs a man when you have shelves a beautiful books and dreams of growth and success?"

The only problem? Jacob Willoughby has set out for a new start, and his redemption means crushing the dreams of his new tenant.

Abigail's inner monologues are hilarious and had me laughing out loud at her wonderful snarkiness! The chemistry between Abigail and Jacob gave me heart flutters and a twisty stomach. But, my goodness, the poignant, pithy moments gave me all the feels.

This was my first foray into the brilliance that is Courtney Walsh, but you'd better believe there will be many more to come. You will fall in love with this story that is light enough to be uplifting, but deeply moving at the same time. Masterful writing makes this a great book (especially around Valentine's Day!)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Before I Wake by Dee Henderson

Unpleasant experiences are a part of life. My most recent foray into this truth included car shopping. I guess it can be a fun experience - almost everyone who knew we were doing this responded with a "Oh, how fun!", but when you're on a time crunch because your family of four is down to one care with roughly 800 bazillion appointments every week and hate spending money to begin with, the search and purchase can be slightly stressful. Thankfully, we did find a van (my husband has a love affair with minivans... who knew?) that fit our specifications within our budget in a single weekend, but let me tell you, it was intense.

The cool thing was, we were able to buy a van in cash when the need arose. I'm always floored by God's provision in our lives - giving us more than we need with amazing faithfulness. Thanks to some crazy coincidences (that I think Someone had a hand in) we've never wanted for anything even when our youngest was born and we were down to one income, bringing in about half of what was considered "poverty". As frustrating as it can be to shop for a car or clothes or even groceries, I need to get better about reminding myself that it is a luxury that we can afford those things AND reminding myself where every good and perfect gift comes from.

Anyhew, (yes, I know that's not really a word) here's my review of Before I Wake by Dee Henderson. It's my first crime/suspense in the Christian genre, so feel free to drop me some other recommendations if you've got them!

Before I WakeBefore I Wake by Dee Henderson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Okay, where do you begin in a book that doesn't end? Bad guy? who knows? Love interest? take a wild guess. You'll never know if you figured it out.

The technical writing is good: fluid conversation, great characters, perfect setting, excellent set-up, but the book leaves you wondering where the final chapter is. A certain amount of open-ended writing can leave you with wonderful possibilities with a strongly suggested path to follow, but this is so wide open it leaves you spinning in circles, frustrated with a lack of conclusion on any front.

I liked the spiritual questions and conversations. Nathan has deep, honest answers to some of the questions Rae wrestles with, but his answers are very real and personal.

The final straw for me was the constant use of 'for' as a conjunction. It threw off the pacing of the story and sounds like the author attempting to elevate otherwise common speech.

Apparently, Dee Henderson doesn't make a habit of premature endings in her books, and her technical writing is good enough that I'll be reading at least one other work by her, but this was not a great introduction and would probably deter me from reading her other stuff if she hadn't been so highly recommended.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Married 'til Monday by Denise Hunter

Have you ever had anything bad happen to you? First off, you're not alone. I am pretty confident that just about everyone would answer with the affirmative. What's worse is that a lot of the time, we let whatever happened play a part in our definition of who we are - maybe even if what happened was completely outside of our control.

While reading Married 'til Monday, I was again struck by the magnitude of God's grace in our lives. It seems to be a recurring theme throughout my own. Sometimes, we wear the shame of past events under a coat of isolation, thinking that if we just don't let anyone close enough, they won't see how broken we are. We can so easily convince ourselves that we're not worth loving, and eventually convince others because we constantly push them away. But the cool thing is, God doesn't give up. We are so precious to him even when we are in our most wretched state. 

But God demonstrates his great love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 8:5

Not only does he love us, but he proved it by literally giving his life for our (seemingly worthless) life. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 But it doesn't stop there, he goes on to transform us into a righteous (good, virtuous, upright, upstanding, decent) person. Our stain is no longer present and we are a new creation 2 Corinthians 5:17. We are then free to live the amazing life that God has planned for us Jeremiah 29:11.

This might seem a little old hat for those who have heard all of this before, but this is not a small thing! I was listening to someone the other day that said the reason for their testimony (they are known for their radical generosity) is that they never got over getting saved. I think a lot of us get complacent in our relationship with the Creator of everything, and forget just how awesome it is that He would even think about us, let alone die for us and give us the Holy Spirit to empower us in this life.

It's great getting to see this lived out by book characters - sometimes we can even learn from the mistakes of fictional people. Not only does Married 'til Monday dive into some deep waters with some of Abby's issues, it is also wildly entertaining on a surface level. Enjoy!

Married 'til Monday (Chapel Springs, #4)Married 'til Monday by Denise Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Man, can Denise write intimacy! Her romantic moments are the perfect blend of juicy steaminess and wholesome affection. They're completely absorbing without going to far.

Ryan and Abby are probably my favorite characters in the Chapel Springs series. They're the best developed and it's the only book in the group in which both people grow emotionally and spiritually over the course of the story. They are both deep and their personalities really resonate with me.

I love Ryan's relentless pursuit of and desire to protect Abby. I often feel like she does throughout the book - flawed, shameful, and unworthy of love, but I love Ryan as a character manifestation of how God pursues us in the midst of our brokenness.

Excellent character dynamics, wonderful plot, and passionate romance make this a novel you'll want to read again.

Although this book is excellent as a stand-alone piece, right now the 4-book Chapel Springs collection is only $3.99 on Kindle. Go get yours now right HERE and fall in love with the whole McKinley family!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter

To be honest, I don't really feel like writing today. I'm in a funk and can't seem to get out, so it's hard to get perspective or find something encouraging when I just feel really overwhelmed. The most frustrating part is that there is no cause. I'm incredibly blessed. I have a God and a family who love me, have been abundantly provided for, and really have nothing to worry about. Yet I can't shake despondency.

When life feels pretty bleak, I know where I'm supposed to turn, but sometimes it's hard to face a God who loves you when you feel unlovable. I have to keep reminding myself of a verse in the Psalms that states "In the midst of my anxieties, your comforts delight my soul" and trust that He's got this even when I'm out of commission.

Today's read was a great way to put my anxieties into perspective for me, and on some level it was a good flashback to how God took care of me even when I was an unmarried, pregnant teenager. Even though I rated this only 3 of 5 stars, it has a lot to offer, especially good ol' Mama Jo.

Dancing with Fireflies (Chapel Springs, #2)Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What a heartbreaking introduction!

While I love the plot, some glaring discrepancies in writing made it hard to really appreciate the book. Denise seems to have a problem keeping her characters straight. In the first book of the series, Jade's high school sweetheart is Seth, but in this book he is Aaron (and in a subsequent book, a different character is named Seth). Daniel's parents tell him about the Allen family who, in the very next paragraph become the Crawfords, and you find out his father's name is Allen later on in the book.

Despite the glaring name problem, this is actually a really great story. In the midst of tragedy, characters experience growth. Denise does a masterful job of showing how adversity can either uproot shallow beliefs or really ground you in a deep and meaningful faith. We get to see characters realize that shame and secrets can have control of your life if we let them, but also experience the power redemption.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Isn't it funny how we like to have control over our lives? We plan out our days, weeks, months, and even years under the supposition that, not only will we still be alive and well, but that everything to that point will have occurred as planned. My favorite aspect (when I'm not in the middle of it) is when I decide how to fix something askew in my life without consulting the Big Man. As I was reading this book, I realized that I have a tendency to do this pretty often. One of the main characters is haunted - not literally - by the death of her brother, and convinces herself that everything will be hunky-dory again when she fulfills her brother's dream. It seems comical, the idea that by meeting some arbitrary goal, we'll finally find what we're looking for, but I think a lot of us do exactly that in our lives.

I'll be able to relax if I can just get this promotion. I'll be happy if I finally get that new car I've been wanting. Everything will be great once my bank account reaches (fill in your blank). It'll all work out once I invest in Bitcoin. My life will be perfect when my spouse changes this bad habit. Mine tends to be, "I'll find fulfillment when my kids are in school and I can begin my career". The problem with this line of thinking is that we live our lives in the time between.

If we can trust that we are exactly supposed to be right now, we can begin to look for the value in our everyday. I can feel accomplished when I survive a debate with my toddler or finally fold that laundry that's gone through the dryer 24 times. I can find joy in being home with my children and the opportunity I have to shape them into individuals who will grow to be the people I hope for them to be. This is something I'm still learning and have to be reminded of all the time, but as I see God's faithfulness and how He's worked in my life, it makes it easier to trust that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be and give Him the things that I don't understand.

Barefoot Summer (Chapel Spring, #1)Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beckett faces the issue of loving someone of whom you feel completely unworthy. His dilemma is understandable based on his colorful past and rough family situation, but the journey to finding his worth means opening up old wounds.

Madison is driven and has her life all figured out, until she finds herself in need of assistance from the one man she can't stand being around. When she has to let Beckett in to achieve her ultimate goal and finally have some peace, she soon realizes that some things are entirely out of her control.

Denise Hunter has quickly become one of my favorite authors, and this book is a wonderful example of exactly why. She has a great way of diving in to deep spiritual truths wish serious real-life issues, but does so in such a way that the problems and solutions feel like the most natural, simple journey. Her characters speak with a perfect, easy flow and the men she writes actually sound like men (something I'm realizing isn't necessarily common in most female-authored works).

Jump in to this fantastic story and you won't want to put it down! You can get it on Amazon HERE and it even comes in Audiobook form!

The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter

I love the title of this book, completely independent of the actual story line, it really spurs a lot of thought for me. Do we ever get over our wishing season? I feel like there is always something I am wishing for - material, spiritual, intellectual - be it monumental or seemingly insignificant.

Recently, my husband has been asking me a lot of questions about what I want. I know that sounds deep, but really he just couldn't figure out what to get me for my birthday. As I've been trying to come up with the perfect birthday wish, I've been really convicted of my selfishness. I don't really need for anything, but I love getting presents so I don't let that little fact get in the way of a new outfit, jewelry, or what-have-you. Lately, however, I have been feeling this little tug to live out my faith better - to get involved in being the hands and feet of the body of Christ.

I go to church. I read my bible. I pray. I tithe. I go through the motions. My main mission front right now is my family, but I often find myself being lazy in that and using it as an excuse to neglect other outreaches because I'm "too busy". So, for my birthday this year, I'm working on finding a way to contribute in the midst of "too busy". Kids in rough situations has always been one of my tender spots, so I figure that's a pretty good place to start. I've always wanted to get involved with kids in the foster care system (like Cole does in this book), but at this point that's not an option for our family, so God gave me another idea via the radio this morning *Pats self on back for book tie-in*. If you want to find out more, go to Compassion International and see how you can help.

Now I'm off to convince my husband of my brilliance and find another great read. Happy bookworming!

The Wishing Season (Chapel Springs, #3)The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fun premise! Two people competing to make their dreams come true, but an eccentric benefactor throws a wrench in everyone's plans.

I like Cole. He's very humble and generous - from his intent for winning the competition to the way he treats PJ even when she is pretty horrible to him - but PJ bugs me. I think part of it is that she reminds me of the worst parts of myself, especially my tendencies to be hotheaded and speak without thinking, but it's also that she's very selfish - very baby-of-the-family stereotype with something akin to a princess complex.

I feel like this book was less spiritually focused and much shallower in that regard, which was a bummer for me. Other than the few "please, God"s both characters seem lacking in this area, and there wasn't any deepening as the plot progressed. PJ has a weird spiritual flip flop from not paying about anything to heartfelt prayers for Cole - then right back to the occasional "please give me what I want, God". Cole has good overall character growth giving him a note dynamic feel, but PJ is a very static character.

The romance...WOW. Steamy! Even had my pulse spiking a couple times. Really well written in that regard.

All in all, it was entertaining and still much better than it's secular counterparts. Even with occasional inconsistencies and some superficial characters, I really like Denise's writing and storytelling abilities, and this one is definitely worth a read.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren

I like to be in control. It makes me comfortable when life, my husband, and my children are predictable and everything happens as it should. I don't do well when things go awry. If and when they do, it's obvious to me that God messed up and is just not seeing how perfect my plan is for the situation. I can seriously relate to characters who have to hold the reigns in their lives, and maybe even the lives of others because we know how things should go down.

The problem with my line of thought, is simply that God knows better. He has a plan. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us "'My thoughts are not your thought, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.'" He has the perfect view of our problems.

When we trust Him with the plan for our lives, He is faithful. The problem is that it's not easy to trust someone that you don't know, even if it is the God of the universe. The solution is simple, but not easy. Get to know him. It's simple because everything we need to know, He gave us in the Bible. It's not easy because we actually have to make an effort to find out who He is by studying the Bible. For a long time, I went to church and took notes during the sermon, but that was pretty much the extent of my study. Last year, I started a Bible-in-a-Year program (that I'm almost done with, yay!) and have been amazed by how much more I know of my Lord and Savior as I've seen the vastness of His majesty, the brilliance of His glory, the faithfulness of His promises, and the depth of His love played out in the pages of His Word.

Troubled Waters (Montana Rescue #4)Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Susan May Warren has done it again. Not only is the cover model the *perfect* Ian Shaw, but I can't imagine a better plot for Ian and Sierra, even though it's torture to go through the whole book in the unsettled condition of hoping and praying that they finally get their happy ending. And then, BAM! Right when you think you finally have it figured out, she switches it up on you again... oh the humanity! Finally digging deeper into Jess's backstory, there are some fantastic revelations that I'm still trying to wrap my head around (and maybe wishing a little that I could chain Susan May Warren to a desk until she finishes writing the entire series - preferably in the next week or so - sorry, Susie!), further entrenching these wonderful, flawed people into your heart.

Troubled Waters keeps you suspended in thrills and romance, just like the rest of the series, and like the rest of the series, offers beautiful nuggets of spiritual wisdom that will encourage a deeper faith in your own life. I love the verse that is quoted multiple times throughout the book from Psalm 142:

I cry to you, Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need...
Set me free from my prison,
that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
because of your goodness to me.

I keep thinking that one of these books can't possibly get any better than the next, but I love being pleasantly surprised with each new release. I CANNOT wait for this summer's release of Storm Front!!

Follow the link HERE to buy Troubled Waters through Amazon, and click HERE to pre-order your copy of Storm Front!


Friday, January 12, 2018

Crossfire by Susan May Warren

Fun fact: I met my husband when I was only eight-years-old. Of course I never would have guessed it at the time, since he was strictly off-limits as one of my big brother's friends.We grew up together, going to the same small school where everyone knew everyone, but we never dated one another.

We didn't end up getting together until a year after I graduated from high school. I was coming back home from a failed venture to spread my proverbial wings, and he was finishing up college at the state school in town when we crossed paths again. So, it makes sense that I'm a sucker for childhood romances that somehow find their happy ending, and I was not disappointed by Crossfire. It's an excellent accompaniment to the exciting Montana Rescue series by my favorite author.

Crossfire (Montana Rescue #4.5)Crossfire by Susan May Warren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you need a quick read that is SO worth the time, Crossfire is exactly the book for you!

So good! I've liked Kade ever since his first appearance in the prequel novella If Ever I Would Leave You (get it for FREE HERE), but Haddie is such a great partner for him. I can't get enough of childhood love reborn, and boy howdy this was perfect. I must admit though, as much as I loved their story, Pete's brief appearance really roped me in. Full of intrigue and excitement, Crossfire is sure to capture your attention and a little piece of your heart, too.

Grab this exciting story HERE then dive in to Troubled Waters, the newest book in the Montana Rescue series!